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Malcolm Robinson

Councillor Robinson - August 2019

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August 2019.

 

Second of August and I have a meeting with WBTC about the Local Transport Plan trying to get some real benefits out of it for all our residents. What a refreshing change to talk to Town councillors and other county councillors about schemes which address concerns residents have raised and the only thing on the agenda was improving the current situation. We went through all the concerns and suggestions which residents had sent in to NCC highways and settled on the ones which hadn’t already been addressed or were in the process of being addressed with a view to support them.

 

Strategic planning today and going into county hall for the meeting I chatted to other members of the committee who all asked me to curtail any objections or suggestions I had. Looks like I’m being blamed for the meetings overrunning, ha ha!  I did have to declare interests in two of the agenda items, as did another member, because Ascent Homes were the applicant and they are a division of Advance.

First application was about new school facilities within Haydon Bridge High School. This is a maintained school so NCC was the applicant.   After the presentation by the planning officer and as there were no speakers we went into members questions. Seems I was the only member to have some questions about this and I could almost hear an audible groan! I said while I had no problem with the school extension I did have a problem with the fact that we were cutting down 44 trees, which to me seemed an inordinate amount, with zero mitigation? I went on and said we have just declared a climate emergency and here we are ripping out the lungs of that area, we can and should be doing better!  I pointed out that there was already a condition in the application which specifies “agreed landscaping” and I suggested we insert the need for replacements for the trees lost. To add insult to injury some of the trees are to be cut down to provide more parking spaces! The rest of the members agreed with my comments so at proposal and vote we included this “aimed” condition. The legal officer suggested allowing the exact wording to be delegated to the chair and lead planning officer which I agreed but insisted it had to feature mitigation for the lost trees!  The application passed unanimously.

Next up was a varyco to a plan for an extension to Kyloe House at Netherton Park. Again this passed unanimously.

I then had to leave as did another member while they heard the Ascent applications.

I had a meeting with the head of Active Northumberland. We talked about the proposal I made at the last full council meeting about giving our armed forces veterans free access to our leisure centres. I did get a reply and it was quite thorough in explaining what discounts veterans can apply for now. I said I did understand the constraints imposed on Active but made a further proposal that any armed forces veterans injured in the line of duty get free access to our leisure centres. That seemed to fit in with the aims of a charitable company such as Active is. That proposal is going to their next board meeting and would at least be a step in the right direction of recognising service to country!

 

Two steps forward and one back as usual. Phone call today off Bernicia telling me the table I acquired for a group of residents is causing a problem? I was asked for help in tidying up a communal area within a block of flats in my ward and I got them some hanging baskets, thanks Brenda, and paid for the compost and hanging brackets myself. They also wanted a table so they could sit outside in the summer once the area had been cleaned up. So I asked around and one of my contacts within NCC came up with a suitable table with integral seating.  I even got them to deliver it and helped get it into place. Seems one of the residents has complained about it and I now had to have a meeting with the Bernicia officer. She did understand what was being attempted and we tried to get it sited in a couple of other places but the resident wouldn’t have it.  So it now has to come out!  This reminds me of the green at Red House Farm where I worked with a resident group to turn it into a kiddies football pitch and gardens.  Again one resident complained and that kicked the whole project into the long grass! Maybe when people complain about things not being done they might like to consider the stuff going on in the background and the real reasons for the associated unrealised projects!

 

Well the Bedlington Regeneration meeting finally took place yesterday after many months of trying to get one sorted. I didn’t like the make up anyway with supposedly 3 members from WBTC and 3 from EBPC which I said would unbalance the group and mean very parochial items were forwarded instead of strategic aspirations for the Town as whole.  It was said by one member that NCC should be doing everything but as the officer who lead the meeting explained that isn’t how this would operate the people present would have to do it all but they would get administrative backing off NCC.  We did discuss the Town Centre development of course and as the chair of Advance sat next to me and we had the regen officer from Advance too they gave an update on the current position.  The 2hr meeting overran by 30 mins and I had a chance to speak to the officers who had led it. I know what I took away from this meeting and told them so.

 

Busy few days as I keep up the pressure for the traffic improvements at Netherton and outside Hartford Home Farm.  They have been paid for and I’m wondering why we haven’t seen them installed as yet!

Had a meeting with our manager for local services and as usual took him  around my ward showing him the problems and concerns residents have contacted me about.  I also had a couple of suggestions about improvements at the West Lea cemetery and again they have been well received but I now have to get the rest of NCC departments on board.  The problem is most of the people I need to speak to are on holiday at the moment so a couple of weeks before I can progress them.

 

Well all the posts for the new interactive speed signs have been installed, just the signs to be fitted and by the mail I have received off Highways that happens next week, once the concrete has hardened.

 

I have been invited to go up to Hadston today and take a look at their sports centre. This is a smallish centre catering for local need and I have been told there are ideas there which might well translate well into one for Bedlington. Open to all and any ideas so a trip up there is called for.

 

I did go up to Hadston and met with Active Northumberland officers who showed me around and told me how they manage this centre.  Few lesson there for making a small sports centre sustainable, something which we have to get right if we are to have any hope of getting one in Bedlington.

 

At last Christine Taylor the chair of West Bedlington Town Council has called a meeting to try get a Friends of group for West Lea cemetery.  Lets hope we get a good turn out. Its not about doing what we expect the council to do its about keeping up the pressure so they know what we feel is important and trying to get even more done there than what’s currently being done. Well done Chris.

 

Just had a reply off my question about needing planning permission for one of my projects.  Seems its not needed so I can at last progress this one.

 

Just had the first meeting about forming a Friends of West Lea Cemetery. About 20 people turned up and some interesting suggestions, now to get it formalised and see what we can do. There is already a list of actions and more to come by the sound of it.  Great start!

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